Gothic Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay

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Oscar Wilde`s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is written primarily out of the aesthetic movement of the Nineteenth Century. Therefore, the text contains a profuse amount of imagery which reflects the concepts of beauty and sensory experiences. By taking the aesthetic approach, Wilde was able to revive the gothic style through grotesque imagery of the portrait and the character whose soul it represents. Wilde is not using gothic elements to shock his audiences; rather he uses the gothic to capture the hideousness of Gray`s corruptness which leaks out of the painting and into the tone of the entire text.
Wilde begins setting the mood of the text with excessive descriptions of nature, and natural beauty: “The studio was filled with the
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His influence and hedonistic ideas assist Gray to realise “the sense of his own beauty” (27), a realisation which is captured in the essence of the portrait. It is at this point in the novel where Gray begins to become corrupted, that Wilde’s use of the gothic form surfaces from underneath the text. Take for example, Gray’s realization that his beauty his not eternal:
“There would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth” (27). Wilde’s language allows readers to have a clear sense of how dreadful the thought of aging is to Dorian Gray. The use of gothic words such as, ‘deformed,’ ‘hideous,’ and ‘uncouth’ reveal the influence of Lord Henry’s words and how they have poisoned Gray’s mind. It is not merely the idea of coming closer to death, which brings contempt to Gray. It is the notion that Gray would rather give his soul to remain young, and beautiful. With Gray’s audacious request, Wilde integrates two conventions of the gothic genre: the devils bargain, and the division of the soul from the body; commonly described as the ‘doppelganger motif’. As Gray becomes two separate entities, Wilde’s language of both light and dark

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